Three Minutes Back by Heather Constantinescu

The windows of the glass elevator had fogged up. The rain turned everything gray and wet. A tall man in a black t-shirt and a baseball cap boarded with me. He punched a button. And that is when I started thinking.

What would you do if you had three minutes back with someone?

I dated a guy in college named Stephen. Was he my boyfriend? Lover? We never really defined things. The man in the elevator reminded me of him. His slouch, dark jeans, striking pallor. There was the faint scent of tobacco.

The elevator stopped again and let on a woman carrying a Chihuahua, and a man with a broken umbrella who’d run across the sky bridge. He shook the water from his coat. Droplets sprayed everywhere.

“Such strong wind,” he muttered. The dog watched the umbrella warily; broken spokes stuck out at every angle.

What would I say?

I can’t believe you left me there. In downtown Detroit with no money for the bus. I waited for hours. The picture my ex-best friend sent me, you kissing her. Why couldn’t you end things face to face?

The power in the building went out, and the elevator ground to a halt. It wasn’t very dark, because of the glass. The steamed windows made me feel like I was floating, a fish in a tank. I smiled down at the Chihuahua. He gave off a tentative growl.

“Hush,” said the lady. The leather of her black jacket creaked impatiently. I looked at the street below. Traffic lights were blinking haphazardly. The man in the cap sighed.

“I was already late,” he muttered.

“You had an appointment?” I asked him.

“Yeah, doctor. I pulled a tendon,” he said. His arm was in a sling.

The man chatted on, talking about inconsequential things. I shut my eyes for a moment, wondering if his voice might also bring something back. But I discovered that I’d forgotten what Stephen sounded like. I did remember his actual words. “Can you come over?” late one night, and “This isn’t right,” as I lay in his arms, and “You’ll never be convinced, will you?” after he tried to tell me he was just in it for the sex.

The elevator jerked into movement again. The man with the umbrella gave a small cheer.

“You’ll get to your appointment now,” I said to the man beside me. He nodded. The ring on his left hand flashed like a warning.

“Are you all right?” he asked me, and I realized I was staring.

“Yeah, sorry. You reminded me of someone,” I said.

“Hope that’s a good thing,” he replied.

The door slid open and the passengers burst forth like seeds from a pod. I watched as Stephen’s lookalike hailed a cab and disappeared into the drizzle. The lady with the dog walked alongside me for a few blocks, then headed down an alley. The rain made a steady beat on my head as I trudged homeward.

Author Bio

I am a writer from Southern California, mother of two. I work online for ETS and K12. I like to write fantasy and flash fiction, and I finished my first novel in the spring of 2012. I am active on several writer’s forums and on Twitter (@farradaysfic)

Heather Constantinescu
(pen name: Madeleine Farraday)

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